Planning for Incapacity

Power of Attorney

Have you ever considered what might happen if you become incapacitated and cannot deal with your own financial affairs?  How will your everyday day bills be paid?  What happens if, while you are incapacitated, you incur an extraordinary debt (such as a large hospital bill) requiring you to sell property in order to pay it?  By planning ahead and giving someone your power of attorney, that person can look after such matters.  If you haven’t designated a power of attorney, you could be putting unnecessary financial strain on your loved ones.

A “power of attorney” is a legal document in which you give specific authority to someone to handle affairs for you become incapable of doing so. Some people are afraid that by signing a power of attorney they give up their ability to handle their affairs. That is not the case.  The person named as your power of attorney can only act in the event you cannot.  Also, you choose the specific activities that your power of attorney can perform.

Advance Medical Directive

Another important part of estate planning is letting others know and carry out your medical care if you become seriously ill.  Though you may have discussed the measures you hope that doctors will take or avoid to preserve you life, your wishes may not be carried out if you do not formalize them in an Advance Medical Directive.

An Advance Medical Directive is similar to a power of attorney but it sets out your specific wishes for the medical treatment you would like to receive if you become too ill to make or communicate your decisions.  An Advance Directive spells out your treatment wishes and designates a person to make medical decisions on your behalf based on your directions.  If you don’t have an Advance Directive, your family and doctors may be left guessing about the medical procedures you want, placing a tremendous strain on them at a time when they are already burdened by worry.